Culture change isn’t easy, but sometimes we make it harder than it needs to be. Managers often resort to “big” change programs when what’s needed is sustained change in “small” behaviors.

At Humanus Solutions we offer a one-day Align and Commit Workshop to jump-start culture change efforts by getting everyone engaged in making a few small but high-leverage changes in daily behavior.

In order for a “small moves” to have a “big effect”, they must meet a few criteria. 

  • Visible. As leaders, our actions, not our words, tell people what we value and expect. We help leaders influence others through behaviors that others will see.
  • Frequent. One-off gestures don’t shift culture – daily, routine behaviors do. We work with clients to find “moves” they can do any time in any place.
  • Simple. The best moves are the ones that you’ll do – so we remind clients to keep it simple. We help them find moves that they can pickup easily – and teach to others.
  • Scalable. For change to take hold, the “move” must be do-able by anyone and everyone in the organization, regardless of rank or role.

Examples of “small moves” that have made a “big difference” for our clients: shaking hands with each team-member at the start of shift meeting, introducing yourself to someone every day, asking someone a specific question once per day, parking where employees park and using the same gate they do, walking in the workplace and talking to people every day, setting up one-on-one meetings with each team member.

Pro-tip: picking the right “move” matters less than getting the right people involved! We accomplish this in our Align and Commit Workshops by inviting all field leaders to participate: we usually ask for “foremen and above”. Once we’ve got leaders together, we take them through four candid, no-holds barred conversations:

  1. Why are we doing this? What’s the change we’re committed to making and why does it matter to us?
  2. How can we demonstrate this commitment through our daily actions? What visible, frequent and easy behaviors will we all take on each and every day?
  3. How can we leverage our team’s regular activities and meetings? Which meetings will we use to engage people and promote the change we’re making?
  4. How will we support each other, hold each other to account and follow-through?

The result? “Soft” skills become easy to discuss – leaders no longer need to urge team members to “be” differently; instead they can focus on doing the moves we agreed to take on. Progress becomes easier to measure – we no longer have to wait for next year’s employee survey to see if changes have occurred; we can see people behaving differently (or not) each day. And the process starts quickly – rather than spending months studying the issue and designing a change program, an Align and Commit Workshop can be planned and conducted in within a few weeks.

Interested in learning more? Ready to get your team Aligned and Committed to making big changes through small moves? We’re ready to help. 

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About the author: Andy Erickson is a fouder and principal consultant at Humanus Solutions, a consulting firm specializing in people-centric leadership. He can be reached at